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Biden holds big lead over Trump with Asian American voters, survey says

The LA Times logo The LA Times 2 days ago Matt Pearce
a man wearing a suit and tie: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks to veterans in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday. (Associated Press) © Provided by The LA Times Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks to veterans in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday. (Associated Press)

Asian American voters prefer Joe Biden to President Trump by 54% to 30% for November's presidential election, according to a survey released Tuesday by a coalition of Asian American civic engagement groups. It shows Democrats making another strong showing with one of the nation's fastest-growing but often-neglected voting blocs.

The survey of 1,569 registered Chinese, Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese and Filipino American voters across the nation was conducted by APIAVote, AAPI Data and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC, who argue that Asian American voters could play a critical role in increasingly diverse battleground states such as Arizona, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

Even in highly competitive swing states such as Wisconsin, where political news coverage is often dominated by the potential preferences of white voters, “there are Hmong farmers and voters out in the rural areas" whose votes could be critical, "especially if you’re looking at a win where every vote really does count," said Christine Chen, executive director of APIAVote, a nonpartisan engagement group.

As with all voting blocs, basic racial identification only tells a small part of the story. Among the Asian American nationalities surveyed, Indian Americans were the most pro-Democratic group, with 54% identifying as Democrats and 16% as Republicans.

Indian Americans had already been a strongly Democratic demographic before California Sen. Kamala Harris, who is Indian American, became Biden's running mate in August. The survey was conducted from July 4 to Sept. 10.

Vietnamese Americans were by far the most pro-Republican group polled, with 38% identifying as Republicans versus 27% as Democrats, which is common for groups who arrived in the U.S. after fleeing communist countries.

Democrats held at least a 15-percentage-point party identification advantage with every other Asian American group polled, though Chinese American registered voters were the only group where self-identified independents outnumbered self-identified Democrats, 41% to 38%.

The number of Chinese Americans identifying as independents rather than Democrats has grown recently due to stronger immigration from mainland China, while many previous immigrants came from Taiwan or Hong Kong, Chen said.

"The new Chinese immigrants from China, their viewpoint and understanding of Asian American history and how they view issues differ from the Chinese Americans who have been here longer," said Chen, who is Chinese American.

However, Chen said, independent Chinese Americans are "not necessarily" likely to shift their support to Republicans because of Trump's anti-China rhetoric and his racist references to the coronavirus as the "kung flu." Sixteen percent of Chinese American voters identified as Republicans, tying with Indian Americans for the weakest affiliation with the GOP among survey respondents.

But despite Trump's frequent anti-immigrant rhetoric, naturalized citizens — who are growing as a share of the U.S. electorate — were significantly less likely to support Biden than their American-born counterparts in the survey of Asian American registered voters. Naturalized Asian American respondents favored Biden to Trump by 48% to 34%, while American-born respondents favored Biden to Trump by 68% to 20%.

But both parties appear to have significant room for improvement in reaching Asian American voters. In separate questions asking whether they'd been contacted by the Republican and Democratic parties, about half of the respondents said no to each question.

“Joe Biden knows how important the Asian American and Pacific Islander community is and he’s committed to ensuring that every member of the AAPI community is treated with dignity and has a fair shot at the American Dream," Jason Tengco, the coalitions chief of staff for the Biden campaign, said in a statement. "We are not leaving any votes behind, we’ve put together a strong AAPI outreach program that recognizes the diversity within the AAPI community and we’re working every day to earn their vote.”

“Asian Pacific Americans, myself included, have consistently supported candidates who advocate for a safe and strong America, more of their hard-earned money in their pockets, the freedom to pick the best schools for our children, and lower taxes," Ken Farnaso, deputy national press secretary for the Trump campaign, said in a statement. "President Trump has delivered on all of that and more in just three years while Joe Biden’s dismal five-decade-long record of failure speaks for itself.”

The survey was conducted via phone and internet in English, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese and had a 2% margin of error.

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